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Some Peculiarities Of Empire In The Early Modern Era

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Chapter Summary

In an essay written just before his move to the University of California at Berkeley, Thomas Brady assessed the theory of a German Sonderweg beginning in the sixteenth century. Brady argued that "the long survival of the Holy Roman Empire's late-medieval characteristics, a traditional monarchy, small states, close union of religion and governance, and communalism, mocks every notion of a new departure, turning point, or Sonderweg among the German-speaking peoples before 1800". Brady's analysis of communalism focused on both its structural and its ideational importance. Adopting Brady's emphasis on dual significances, this chapter revisits the first-listed of Brady's characteristics, the imperial monarchy. It argues that beyond institutions and structures, the ideal of empire itself was important for the history of the sixteenth century, in the Germany and in Europe more broadly.

Keywords: communalism; German Sonderweg; Holy Roman Empire; imperial monarchy; Thomas Brady



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